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Pitr Udaka

Pitr udaka is the water oblation offered to the ancestors in Hinduism. Pitr in Sanskrit means the forefather, who, after death, reached the world of the dead, called pitru-loka. The pitara are described in detail in Rig Veda (X.IV). Ancient Vedic Aryans considered Yama to be the first and foremost among the pitara. It is mentioned in Rig Veda (X.15.6) that the pitara attend the sacrifice (yajna) performed by a descendant for offering food and water to them. At the Shraddha, as these ‘sacrifices’ are called, the pitara accept the food (svadha) and the water (pitr udaka) offered to them. At many places in Rig Veda (X.68.11; X.15.1), great respect is shown to the pitara by the Vedic sages, praising their important role in promoting the well-being of future generations.

The shraddha for offering food and water (panda and udaka, i.e, pindodaka) to the pitara is performed every month after death for the first year; and thereafter once in a year in a particular fortnight called pitripaksha or mahalaya. Shraddha for one’s deceased mother or father is performed every year on the day (tithi) of their death anniversary. This continues throughout the life of the children. And it is only at the time of Shraddha that a pitr can get food and water on which to sustain life in the pitr-loka. The explains why in the Indian tradition great importance is attached to the birth of a son in the family.